The common types of picture books

In Verla Kay's Blog article, She lists the most common types of picture books:

    • Adult "Coffee Table" Books (These are usually full of photos.)
    • Board Books (These have hard, usually slick pages that babies can play with and not tear or damage.)
    • Novelty Books (Lift-the-flap, pop-ups, or books that come packaged with a toy are some examples of this kind of book.)
    • Concept Books (ABC's, Numbers, non-fiction for toddlers fall into this catagory.)
    • Regular Picture Books (This is what most people think of when they think of picture books for children. These are books in prose or rhyme, with a limited number of words that are suitable for reading to toddlers. This is the kind of picture book we are discussing in this article.)
    • Picture Story Books (These are longer books - they can be up to 2500 words long. You will often see fables or folk tales written as picture story books, with the words filling one page and an illustration on the facing page.)

In terms of classification, strictly speaking, these categories are overlapping, their boundaries are not clear. These clasifications are categoried by different criteria or method : one by book material on which a book has been printed (board books), another by contents (concept books), even others by the consumer objects (adult books). Nevertheless, as a picture book writer, a publisher, or an editor, these terms that Verla Kay gives out are quite helpful, for these at least give you basic ideas or concepts of what picture books are.

In this article, I'll focus on talking about board books, touchy feely books, lift-the-flap books, pop-up books, and books that come packaged with a toy which has some novelty or creative features.

Board Books

Board Books, as Verla Kay put out above, have hard, usually slick pages published on a cardboard. These cardboard is used for the cover as well as the pages. Unlike a typical book with cardboard binding and paper pages, these books are intended for small children to use and play with, and to be more durable, so that babies can not tear or damage. Some luxurious editions of regular books are often boarded as well.

In this article , Harold D. Underdown described the defference between a Board Book and a Picture Book:

"A board book is a binding format. A picture book is a type of book, or a genre. You can write a text intended for a picture book, but you can't write a text for a board book, just as you can't write a text for a hardcover or a paperback. Your text may get published in one of those forms, but it was a picture book text, or a text for a novel, not a hardcover text, or a board book text."

So, it's quite clear of the distinction between format and genre. Just as mentioned before, a luxurious adult book without picutures can also be boarded. But I have to point out that sometimes book format determines it's presentation of its contents, such as that in a lift the flap book, you should have something under the flap to satisfy the curiosity of a child, a migical picture, a suprise or just an answer. A lift-the-flap book author have to re-arrange and re-wirte its content which have originally been intended for a normal board book.

Harold D.Underdown points out that books on display in any large children's bookstore tend to fall into three groups:

spinoffs from TV shows, movies, or other well-known properties.

very simple concept books created by publishers with no outside help, or by hiring authors to write to specifications.

books originally published as hardcover picture books, reformatted into board books.

There are very few, if any, original board books published.

He also discussed the material used for printing board books which are quite different. The highest quality, and most expensive, is "white board," or "white art board," which essentially is pressed cardboard, with a white laminated surface, and white fibers all the way through. "Gray board" is similar, but contains gray fibers in the middle of it. Board is specified by thickness and weight. "Gsm" (Grams/square meter) indicates weight, and "pt" (point) indicates thickness. Typical weights are in the 300 to 400 gsm range, with a 18 to 25 pt thickness. The material in white board may be referred to as "SBS" for solid bleached sulfate.

I feel that making board books is a pretty new industry, there may be not industrial standards, it's difficult to find out these kind of information except for talking to a experienced printer.

Lift the flap Books

Most infants love lift-the-flap books, but some may not. There’s flaps to lift and tabs to pull, without great strong drawings with lots of colour or magical pictures an a suprise underneath to satisfy the curiosity of the kids, they will be get bored, and won't bother to pull such stupid tabs, even hate to have to lift a flap.

In this blog, the author said that he just hate this kind of books. He just can’t STAND those cute little board books with hidden flaps that kids can lift up and find some magical picture underneath which encourage discovery and curiosity. He want to turn the page, read the words, and move on. He do not, repeat, do NOT want to look under every single flap on the page, multiple times, and feign excitement or joy. In fact, it is all he can do is to throw the book across the room and scream “Look, the flaps flew away!!”

Touch and feel books

There comes a time in most baby bookworms' literary journeys, sometime after they learn to turn pages and before lift the flap books, when "touch and feel" board books warm their hearts. It's quite tricky to best integret texture parts into the pictures and words, if he likes a book, he'll go for the textured parts, but if a book doesn't appeal to him, a bit of fake fur won't pull him in.